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Exploring the Abandoned Alvira Bunkers from World War 2

There are few things I enjoy more than legally exploring abandoned places in PA. Because of this, the Alvira Bunkers in Union County have long been on my list.

The Alvira Bunkers are all that remains of a World War II-era military depot that was located in central Pennsylvania. Today, they lay hidden in the woods of State Game Lands 252, just a few miles south of Williamsport.

In 1942, the town of Alvira, Pennsylvania, near Allenwood, had about 100 residents. The federal government was looking for somewhere to build an ordnance depot and, for reasons that are unclear today, chose this speck of land in Union County, PA.

World War 2 Ordinance Depot in Pennsylvania
The ordnance depot was built during World War 2

They purchased all of the land in the town, as well as many nearby farms, forcing the residents to leave, and razing the entire community.

On the land, they built the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works, which contained roughly 150 bunkers that housed munitions like TNT. However, it was soon discovered that the military didn’t need the storage, and the bunkers were quickly vacated.

Today, little remains of the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works or the town of Alvira. However, for those that love exploring abandoned places, it’s still possible to see some of these bunkers and some remnants of the community by visiting State Game Lands 252.

An open Alvira Bunker in Union County, PA
The bunkers were soon closed, but still remain hidden in the state game lands.

While the bunkers can be found throughout the game lands, the best place to park to explore the bunkers is a parking lot along Alvira Road. From this parking lot, there are several gated dirt roads that head into the state game lands.

It should be noted that since this is a land that allows hunting, wearing orange when visiting is highly recommended.

The Alvira Bunkers are scattered throughout this area along the old roads that crisscross the land. Each is numbered and many are sadly mired with graffiti. Nevertheless, it is fascinating coming across them while walking through this rather beautiful landscape.

State Game Lands 252 near Allenwood, PA
Old dirt roads crisscross this beautiful part of Union County.

When I visited, I stuck to the main roadways, though I saw several bunkers that were located off of the main paths. While you could certainly visit these, there are enough that are steps from the old roads that I didn’t find it necessary to traipse through the underbrush.

Because they are located along the main paths, finding them is rather easy. However, if you need help, look for large mounds covered by trees and underbrush.

Inside an Alvira Bunker in Pennsylvania
Looking out from inside one of the bunkers.

As you are walking around State Game Lands 252, you might find a few bunkers that are open. If you opt to head inside, make sure to use extreme caution as you never know what kinds of animals might have decided to explore them as well.

However, going inside is pretty cool if you have the opportunity because the echoes in these old bunkers are incredible.

Even better, as you get closer to the center, the echoes get better and better. Standing in the center of the bunker causes your voice to bounce over and over again throughout the concrete building. Even small noises, like jingling keys, create an incredible sound. 

The inside of a bunker of Alvira
The bunkers tend to be pretty bare on the inside.

All that being said, it’s entirely possible that the bunker doors could be welded shut at some point in the future. If you are unable to find an open bunker, please simply enjoy them from the outside, which is really neat in its own right.

One thing that is really cool about the bunkers of Alvira is that several are located directly along Alvira Road. This means that if you’d rather not go hiking into the game lands, it’s still possible to see a couple of them without even having to leave your car.

The Alvira Bunkers are an amazing abandoned place in PA
Some bunkers, like this one, are located directly along the road.

After exploring the bunkers, don’t leave the area, instead, follow Alvira Road to the southeast. The road continues for about 1.5 miles, passing several other bunkers and a small cemetery, before ending at a gate. The land just beyond this gate is the Allenwood Federal Prison but this area is still part of the state game lands.

At the end of the road, notice a trail leading off to the left (as you face the end of the road). This trail leads a short distance back to the original cemetery for the community of Alvira.

This is a fascinating cemetery to walk around, and it’s obvious that people still come and care for it. Nevertheless, several of the gravestones have been toppled and others are difficult to read.

Alvira Cemetery in Union County, PA
The old Alvira Cemetery sits near the end of Alvira Road.

Still, some of the graves are quite interesting, including two men of the same last name that likely died in the Civil War and a plaque that denotes the injuries of another man.

Without a doubt, the Alvira Bunkers on State Game Lands 252 is a fascinating place to explore. If you love visiting abandoned places, this is definitely a spot not to miss as it showcases the fascinating history of how PA responded to the war effort of the 1940s.

Where are the Alvira Bunkers?

Parking for the Alvira Bunkers
The parking area for the Alvira Bunkers.

The Alvira Bunkers can be found just west of Route 15 near Allenwood in Union County, Pennsylvania. They are within a few miles of the popular Clyde Peeling’s Repitland, which would make a great spot to visit while in the area.

While bunkers can be seen while driving the road, the best place to park for those wanting to hike deeper into the game lands is at the following coordinates: 41.136248, -76.959330.

This parking area is directly adjacent to bunker #1, and two gated dirt roads lead off into the forest from here. While the road on the left will take you deeper into the game lands, bunkers can more quickly be reached by taking the road to the right.

How to get to the Alvira Bunkers
Bunker #1 sits adjacent to the parking area.

It should be noted again that this is hunting land, so wearing orange while exploring is highly recommended. Please also respect the history of the site and don’t enter any closed bunkers and leave them all as you found them.

When I visited, there were also areas of the land that were closed to the public. Please respect these areas as you can see plenty of bunkers without crossing those signs.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out the covered bridges of Union County, the World of Little League Museum, and the grave of baseball legend Christy Mathewson.

You can also check out an abandoned World War 2 POW camp in Cumberland County, PA and the Abandoned POW Camp in Fulton County.

[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]

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13 thoughts on “Exploring the Abandoned Alvira Bunkers from World War 2”

  1. What a great resource! Most people (myself included) just have no idea the cool stuff in our area… so glad I came across this site!! Ty


  3. I just learned that my great grandfather owned a piece of land that was taken over by the government for this purpose in Alvira. I was intrigued by the story and had to do some additional research. Thank you for the info!

  4. Cyndi – Jan 23 2020
    My dad worked at the Allenwood Prison during the 50s – 60s. We lived in 1 of the 10 staff houses where the Lycoming Landfill is now located. We spent much time driving around the Alvira area when foundations, shrubbery, fruit trees were easily seen. We used the igloos to store potatoes, apples and such. Because of the atmosphere and constant temps, it was a perfect place to keep them. I grew up in this area. Nest life ever!

  5. Are these bunkers in Alvira connected to the Keystone Ordinance Works in Crawford County PA? They must be in some way! If anyone has any info. Please reply!

  6. The Union County Historical Society has a few copies of the documentary “Surrender! The Death of Alvira” for sale. The documentary is about the Pennsylvania Ordinance Works and what all went on there and how the grounds are now. Very neat documentary!

  7. I used to hunt at the ordinance when I was 16. I am almost 63 now and this brings back memories. I plan to go visit there this spring. Does anyone know if there are any abandon mine shafts in this are this area of pa was quite a mining area as well.

  8. No connection that I know of to the Crawford Ordnance, other than they would have been part of the same Army department. There is however a connection to another ordnance operation – the nuclear one in Alamagordo, NM. The former commander at Allenwood went from there to Alamagordo. When disposal/storage of nuclear waste became a problem he recommended the bunkers at Allenwood. Nobody knows for sure how many of them were used for this purpose. Six, full of nuclear waste, were dynamited.

  9. Thanks for the info. I was born and raised in nearby Williamsport but had never heard of these bunkers. Next time I visit my hometown I’ll visit the bunkers too.

  10. If you’re going here from the south/east, make sure to take route 44 and go north on Mill Road. My navigation system directed me to go through parts of the prison complex that were only for authorized vehicles, and on roads that did not exist.

  11. I grew up in Clinton County and through Jim’s website this is another “jewel” that never existed all of those years. I plan to visit this location in mid to late May with a fellow rail-trail cyclist to explore all of this area. The dirt roads within look fun to travel on as well, especially when they are dry vs. muddy. Thank you for this awesome website .


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